The Good News About Bad News

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:13-15 ESV

Peter wrote these words to Christians who were suffering severely at the hands of Rome precisely because they had put their hope in Christ. These courageous Christians were repaying evil with good and suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Peter assumes the way they faced hardship and suffering, namely with hope, would prompt people to ask them, “Where did you get your hope from? What are you hoping in?”

Today we find the whole world amid some BAD NEWS, all of us, everywhere are facing a season of uncertainty and hardship. This COVID-19 Pandemic has created general hardship. What I mean is, it is not limited to Christians; everyone is being impacted by this virus in some way.

Still, I believe that Peter’s words in 3:15 show us, as followers of Christ, how we should face the current crisis, namely with hope, so our behavior will prompt people to ask us, “What we are hoping in?”

Here’s the question: Will we live in such a way during this pandemic, that people have occasion to say, you know, I don’t get you…there’s something different about you — where does your hope come from? You don’t put your hope in the same thing I put my hope in.”

The way we face the bad news, gives us the opportunity to share the good news to our neighbors and to the nations.

But how will the world know we are hoping in God, hoping in the Gospel?

Well, let me start with a few things that surely will not prompt people to ask about our hope because we will be acting just like most everybody else:

• Fear, anxiety and panic
• Love of safety, self-preservation, self-exaltation
• Hoarding (money and resources)

Here is what hope filled behavior looks like right now amidst the bad news:
• Peace
• Calm
• Courage
• Self-denying generosity
• Humble acts of love
• Peaceful Suffering

I am not talking about some glib, praise God anyhow type of cheeriness that makes us look we are not in touch with reality. When we direct our desires to God and find hope and contentment in his mercy and power and promises, especially in times of BAD NEWS then our outward life starts to show behaviors that puzzle unbelievers…making them scratch their heads and ask us about our hope.

Let me bring this home for the churches, agencies, and donors Sixteen:Fifteen serves. The Good News About Bad News, as it may relate to our mission as adapted from something John Piper wrote in 2009 in response to the financial crisis.

• Trying and uncertain times make us more dependent on God. That is the most fertile soil for creating missionaries. Perhaps God will use this season to raise up a new crop of missionaries, people He is weaning off this world, teaching them to live on Him only.

• During an economic downturn, unreached and least reached people around the world do not expect you to come, but to look out for yourself. So, they may more likely see your risk as love rather than exploitation. Current travel bans may restrict our ability to send workers right now, but those bans will lift, and when they do, we must not shrink back from sending workers to the darkest and most dangerous places. And because of some of the global solidarity due to our common fight against Corona, there may even be some doors opening that have been closed.

• During a global pandemic, those who need Christ around the world may be less secure in earthly things and more ready to hear about eternal life.

• During an economic downturn people may be wakened to the brevity of life and the fragility of material things, and so may become more generous not less. And when they give under these circumstances, it will make Christ look more like the all-satisfying Treasure that He is. When the barns are overflowing and we give, I do not think the world really takes notice, they are not too impressed. However, when it is tough to give, when it costs us something, they just might ask us where our hope comes from. So, lets’ give more during this time, not less.

“Fear to die? Thank God, I do not. The cholera may come again next summer—-Pray it may not. But if it does, it matters not to me. I will toil and visit the sick by night and by day until I drop. And if it takes me, sudden death is sudden glory.” Charles Spurgeon

Matthew Ellison, President and Church Missions Coach